Students use cutting-edge technology to conserve 700-year-old artwork

The past and the present will combine at Longthorpe Tower in Peterborough from Monday, when cutting-edge technology will be used to help ensure 700-year-old artworks are fit for 21st century eyes.

Rare and culturally significant paintings adorning the walls of the historic building will become the focus of a 12-week partnership between English Heritage and the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Students will conduct a hi-tech examination of the paintings in preparation for conservation, and look for hidden aspects not visible to the naked eye.

Longthorpe Tower wall paintings
A student examines a very rare wall painting (English Heritage/PA)

The paintings contain biblical, moral and didactic subjects, with an unusual Wheel Of Five Senses, where taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight are represented through a monkey, a spider’s web, a vulture, a boar and a cockerel respectively.

The much-needed conservation treatment will begin to stabilise plaster and seek to minimise the appearance of old restorations allowing the original scheme to take centre stage, English Heritage said.

The second phase of the project begins on Monday, and will be open to visitors at the weekend to allow them a sneak peek of the conservation in action.

Longthorpe Tower wall paintings
The wall paintings at Longthorpe Hall are undergoing conservation work (English Heritage/PA)

The tower, built in 1300, forms part of an earlier fortified manor house owned by the de Thorpe family and the paintings were rediscovered in 1945 under layers of limewash.

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